Thursday, May 21, 2015

That moment of realization

I've collected quite a few sets since starting in this hobby, and I've completed dozens and dozens of them. Completing a large trading card set provides a joy that can't be matched by anything else, I've found, at least not in the card-collecting realm.

There is a certain amount of suspense in set-collecting. It is such a long haul that sometimes you think you may not be able to finish the job. There are so many cards, and it seems like you've done so much work already, and yet, you have so far to go.

Sometimes, when I'm at that point in my set-collecting process, I make it a point to acquire one or a few key cards from that set that will let that doubting collector inside me know that, yes, I can in fact complete this set. Look what I just bought! Look how serious I am about this!

This often works, and I end up finishing the set without any more doubts. It's a moment of realization for me, spurred on by one simple act of acquisition.

This happened to me just the other day.

As you may know, I was the lucky winner of an ebay gift card from Play at the Plate. To win the prize, I had to guess the amount of money that was on the gift card. You could submit as many guesses as you wanted over one weekend period as long as you restricted it to one guess an hour.

Lucky me, I was confined to a computer most of the weekend, so I knew I had a shot. While everyone else was off gallivanting in the sunshine, I dutifully submitted guesses from my computer at work (and in the middle of the night after I got home) as often as I could.

My lack of a life paid off, because I guessed the amount: $31.27.

Found card money like this always puts me in a tizzy because I like so many things. Which way to turn?

At first I thought Dodger-centric and how I'm supposed to be serious about landing Sandy Koufax cards this year. But almost every Koufax card search gets depressing because everybody wants so much for his cards. I admire Koufax as much as anyone, but the prices on his cards are stupid.

So, out of protest, I turned to something else. I looked at Drysdale cards. Then I looked at some random Dodger cards that are old and interesting. But I just wasn't that interested.

So, I went in a different direction.

I focused on set-collecting instead.

The set that I'm most interested in completing right now is the 1972 Topps set. It's a crazy difficult set with tons of expensive high-number cards. And even though I'm making much better headway on that set in a shorter period of time than I ever thought, I still looked at my '72 want list and over and over and all I could see was how much longer I had to go. Sometimes it's been rather deflating.

I had to dispel that state of doubt. It was time for a moment of realization.

Enter gift card (let's not think about how there could have been $500 on that baby).

I had one card in mind and now it's here. And it didn't cost me a thing:

We'll take care of the case later, but isn't that wonderful? I even have a little bit left on the gift card. Thanks, Brian!

This is basically the priciest card in the 1972 Topps set and it was a black cloud that's been hovering over my mission for a long time. But now it's mine.

When I see this card, I think of the early days of my return to the hobby. It was in 2004. I was making regular weekly shops to a pawn/collecting shop downtown because a guy who worked there had tons of 1975 Topps. I'd go there and marvel at cards I hadn't seen since childhood and begin the process of completing that first set I ever collected.

The dealer had other cards in other boxes. And he featured a few cards on display. Back behind the counter, way up on a shelf, almost so high that it was easy to miss, I saw the 1972 Topps Nolan Ryan card.

I instantly recognized it as a very desirable and expensive card, and I never made any attempt, even in my head, to try to acquire that card.

But I'm a lot bolder now. And way too deep into this hobby.

So more than 10 years after I saw that card high on the shelf, it is sitting right in front of me at this very moment.

Brian sent a few other cards with the gift card, which forgive me, I'm having a difficult time paying attention to right now.

Those are some of them.

But right now, I'm thinking mostly about the 1972 Topps set. Thanks to that Nolan Ryan card, no. 595 in that set, I am revitalized and those remaining high-number cards don't seem all that intimidating anymore.

There is the moment of realization that I can do this.

There is also the moment of realization that I own a 1972 Topps Nolan Ryan.

I'm ready to go.


  1. The moment of realization that Dee Gordon might actually be a good player now seems to be delayed for many.

  2. It has long been a (currently unfulfilled) dream of mine to own a '72 Ryan. I'd say you spent that gift card well.

  3. I'm extremely proud to have contributed on some small way to fulfilling a cardboard dream.

  4. Nice pickup on PatP's dime. What better way to acquire cards?!

  5. Congratulations on winning PATP's contest! 1972 is definitely in my top 5 of all-time... but the prices for those high numbers are ridiculous.

  6. Honest to God this is creepy. I'm reading all your entries one at a time in order by date. I just got to this one today. It's a sign.

    I guess I'm getting a 1972 Nolan Ryan.